Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two thumbs up for Garmin!

I know this isn't really Photography related, but I just wanted to post this RAVE I have about Garmin's customer service.

I've been a loyal Garmin customer since the days of the Garmin V. That thing was a beast, no color screen, no touch screen, heck it didn't even connect to the computer via USB, it was a serial connection back then. It didn't even come preloaded with the US Maps, it had Interstates and major highways pre-loaded on the device, but you had to select which areas you wanted detailed data of. And it took forever to upload that data thanks to the serial cable, think 2-3 hours to upload 25MB of maps to the device. Still an awesome GPS.

Anyway I've owned various Garmin GPSs since then, even a few other brands, had the iPhone with it's GPS, but every time I'd compare them to Garmin and my old Garmin V. So in June I purchased a Garmin nuvi 885T, at the time Garmin's best model, you could talk to the device and it would work off of voice commands ie "Navigate to McDonalds" and it'd direct you to the nearest McDs.

Well on vacation in Colorado, I noticed the device was no longer charging. Lucky for me I got the 4 year service plan with Best Buy when I bought the Garmin. I bring it in and Best Buy was like we don't carry this model anymore. Ok no biggie, I have the Service plan, not the Replacement plan, so send it in for service. Didn't even get that far, Best Buy is like no we're gonna give you a brand new different unit today. Well score, that's pretty awesome, no waiting until my 885T gets back from service.

The customer service rep initially got me the 1390T, the downside was none of Garmin's current models carried the voice recognition, I was a little bummed. I guess Garmin discontinued that feature because it was really buggy about working or not. I didn't seem to notice too many problems unless I had a lot of background noise. Anyway so the 1390T looked nice, seemed a lot more responsive and quicker to respond than my 885T. They do the exchange and I take a lap around the store. I head up to car/audio/gps and see the next model up 1490T with it's huge 5" screen for the same price as the 1390T they just switched me to. After a little bit of coaxing the manager agrees to give me the 1490T instead :)

So where does Garmin come into play? Well earlier in November I purchased the lifetime map upgrade for my 885T since it was a nice model I planned on keeping it for a while, little did I know it would be replaced in two months. No biggie. So I get home after giving the 1490T a little test drive and pull up Garmin's website. A little bit of searching later and I found out it's not possible to transfer my lifetime map updates :( Well it's not like I just bought a new unit on the whim, hopefully they'll be able to make an exception.

Eventually I email Garmin, explain the situation and about 2 days later the Rep says, sure sounds good just get me a copy of the receipt via email or fax and we'll be good to go. It takes me a couple days to respond, I couldn't find the receipt so I had to goto Best Buy and get another hard copy. I do, take pictures and email that back to Garmin. Now I'm expecting it to be another couple of days before they get back to me, not a problem at all. Well about an hour later I get a new email alert, I think it's Garmin's automated response, saying yes we got your email, standby before a normal human reads it and replies. But sure enough it was from a real human being, and they had already switched the lifetime maps to my new GPS.

Pretty awesome customer service there, other companies take note. I'm definitely a technology junkie, always looking at the latest and greatest out there, but to have a company that has great customer service, treats you like a human being, is willing to make the exception to keep a customer happy, is one that will stay successful, and more importantly, keep my fickle techno obsessed self loyal to their company. :)

Hooray to Garmin, keep up the awesome work (and quality products too) :D

Aaron Brown

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